Music is something that has always been present in most of our lives in one way or another. It’s in the drives to school or to the beach with friends, it’s on in the background at meals, and it’s the motivation for our workouts. I’ve noticed, however, that among my friends, music is bigger than just something that’s playing in the background—it’s emotions, memories, and overall, a big part of who we are.
Evolution of Music Taste
For a lot of people, these strong associations with music were not as present in high school. My friend Callie said that in high school, she mostly listened to the music that her friends listened to, even if she preferred to listen to artists not seen as the norm. Now, she’s branched out into what she calls “dad music”—music her dad listens to that she has always enjoyed—including bands such as Modest Mouse, The Cars, and Oingo Boingo.
Callie not only enjoys listening to music that’s more her style, but also following the artists, talking about her favorite bands, and feeling more connected to her personalized music taste. She hasn’t quite mastered Spotify yet, she said, but her appreciation for the platform has increased as the significance of music in her life has grown.
Caroline and Sara, a roommate pair I know, also talked about how they did not necessarily have a defined music taste in high school, but once they got to college, they began to explore new genres.
Similar to Callie, Caroline would listen to what her friends in high school listened to, but in college, she began to veer away from that and listen to more country—Alabama Shakes—and mellow pop—The Lumineers, Noah Kahan, and John Mayer. Each of these artists relate to some part of her identity, she said.
In line with the idea that college is a time to explore and further develop our identities, it seems that there is a common trend of discovering music that reflects your personal identity.
For those with a musical background, such as my friend Jackie, music has likely always held an important role in their lives. She said she enjoys singing and playing the piano, which has also made her more open to branching out to other musical genres.
She feels connected to her favorite artists—Rex Orange County, Ariana Grande, and Daniel Caesar—because, contrary to Callie, Caroline, and Sara, they’ve been significant in her life since high school.
For those similar to Jackie, listening to music can ultimately be an extension of their passion for creating it. Some have also matured into their music tastes earlier on and have enjoyed spreading their passions to the new people they are surrounded by in college.
Music as a Means of Connection
As music becomes such an integral part of people’s identities, it also means that people begin to associate certain artists or songs with someone’s personality. My friend Emma explains how you can learn a lot about someone through the music they listen to. Sharing music has even formed some of her friendships, she said.
Emma values people and their music taste so much that for her birthday, her friends put together a playlist titled “when we think of Emma we hear … ,” which they filled with songs that remind them of her. It included music from her favorite artists, songs that her friends associate with some of their shared memories, and songs that they feel encompass her personality.
I’ve found that sharing music allows you to connect with someone on a deeper level and can be a great way to find new music yourself.
Emma said she loves to organize her Spotify account into categories that fit specific criteria and represent different parts of her personality.
Her music taste ranges from rap and hip-hop—The Kid LAROI, Lil Uzi Vert, and iann dior—to mellow pop—Jeremy Zucker and Chelsea Cutler—to more indie-pop—The Band CAMINO and Quinn XCII. Her Spotify profile reflects all of these sides of her, she said.
She also enjoys making playlists for her friends, she said—the one she made for her roommate is titled “a Playlist for My Ride or Die.”
She likes to give her playlists cute and creative names pertaining to the type of music on them, such as “how is my coffee already cold” and “the mom friend.” She also likes to customize her Spotify profile with cover photos on her playlists, making it even more personalized.
Like Emma, I also really enjoy customizing my Spotify profile with cover photos and creative playlist names. It’s interesting to see how everyone has their own way of going about doing this, and it really highlights how identifiable and personal music can be.
Ultimately, it seems that once people get to college, music has a much more prominent role in their lives. Beyond something that’s just playing in the background, it can become something that represents our identities, serves as a foundation to make deeper connections with people, and brings meaning into our everyday lives in a relatively simple way.
Featured Graphic by Olivia Charbonneau / Heights Editor
Photos Courtesy of Sofia Fauza and Emma Sabbadini